I’m not sure about you, but at this time of the year, I don’t feel like tackling any major new projects. There seem to be a ton of interruptions, people are in and out of the office, and it is just harder to focus with holiday thoughts on the brain. On the other hand, these next couple of weeks present an opportunity to do a few self-contained improvement projects that can tee up 2020 and help you enjoy the holidays knowing you’re ready to rock the new year.
Here are a few ideas. If you tackle any one of them, you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something useful amid all of the year-end excitement.
Sort and Straighten the Workspace
Depending on your workspace set up and its condition, a full-on 5S project might be too much to take on by year’s end, but this is still a great time to see if there are any incremental improvements to be made before the crystal ball falls in Time’s Square. The 5S model provides a useful guide for what to address:
Sort: Sorting is the process of considering whether each thing in the workspace is needed or not. It also involves identifying things that are used most frequently or most urgently. It’s the first step to an organized workspace.
Set in Order: Once you know what is needed, you can arrange items that are necessary so that they are ready and easy to use. The items team members need the most or the fastest should be closest to where they will be used.
Shine: After things are in order, it’s time to clean the workplace and equipment.
Standardize: You’ve gone to all the work to sort and arrange the workspace, so it makes sense to document and share the new standard for how things should be setup. Even better, if you can provide visual queues as to where things should go.
Sustain: Make a goal for 2020 to keep to the standard and continue to improve, overseeing the process, and coaching people as needed.
Set Your CI Goals for 2020
Most organizations have some process in place to set the strategic goals for 2020. (If yours isn’t there yet, we recommend the Hoshin Kanri or strategy deployment approach.) Often, however, these planning processes focus on financial goals or game-changing breakthrough objectives. That’s great, but don’t forget to think about your goals for improvement in 2020.
Do you want to start more projects? Involve more people? Increase impact? Get better at documenting improvement work? Perform a Standard Work review?
There’s a lot you can do and measure to get better results next year. Now’s a great time to think about what that looks like.
Throw in Some Training and Brainstorming
What a better way to start the new year than with a few training sessions for your team? Perhaps you’ve had some new members join your team who haven’t had formal training on your improvement tools or your quality management software. Now’s a great time to bring them up to speed.
It’s also a fantastic idea to do some refresher or brainstorming sessions with long-term and new employees alike. What do they feel went well in terms of CI this year? What could be even better int 2020?
If you are using KaiNexus or any other digital tools to manage improvement, take the opportunity to review your dashboards, and assess whether they are giving you the information you need in the most useful layout. You may want to make tweaks to your Kaizen boards, huddle boards, strategy dashboards, safety boards, or others.
Ask your team if their views are configured in a way that is working for them. If not, this is the perfect time to adjust and improve.
One of the most important things you can do to get more out of any improvement technique you deploy is to recognize the people who are putting in the effort and emotional investment. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most natural things to neglect.
While you wish everyone a happy holiday season and a joyful new year, take the time to thank them for everything they’ve done to make their mark in 2019. Achievements big and small deserve to be recognized, and the more publicly it is done, the better.
We’re not suggesting you open up any enormous cans of worms with only a few days left until the end of the year, but these ideas are doable. Once you check one-off, pat yourself on the back, and have a fantastic holiday season!